Norma Gene Rambow
By Christine Baldwin, AFRH-W Librarian
Norma Gene Rambow was born in Indiana. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was bombed. Norma was an eighteen year old freshman at Indiana State Teacher’s College and was very angry and wanted to take revenge. But she had to be twenty to join our women fighting forces. During her sophomore year, she was not able to join again due to a family emergency. On February 13, 1943, the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was established and Norma was finally able to join. After being sworn in, she had to wait a few months and was called into active duty on November 15, 1943. When she arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, Norma wondered what she had gotten herself into. Women in uniform were yelling “Fall In” to hundreds of us!
Norma had Boot Camp at Camp Lejeune, NC and this experience really put things in order for her. She felt truly alive living and working with girls from across this great country. The military routine was just what she needed. Battalion Reviews were exciting exercises, full of pomp and circumstances. Norma graduated in December 24, 1943. She had hoped to go to Photography School, but instead went to Cooks & Baker’s School. After training, she was assigned to Mess Hall 54 Battalion Area at Camp Lejeune. Norma was proud of her Corporal stripes and performed her duties in appreciation. She cooked, ground coffee, cleaned, etc. She served as an Assistant Cook, a Chief Cook, a Wing Sergeant (supervising the Mess girls) and later a Supply Sergeant. The friendships she enjoyed were a blessing. The military experience was a good one. On November 16, 1945, Norma had enough points for discharge.
The year 1946 determined Norma’s life for the next 53 years. In the summer of 1946, she was invited to spend time with her mother and her new family in Battle Creek, MI. Her mother had worked for Post Cereals during the war year, 1941 thru 1945. Norma worked in a neighborhood drug store, where she met a handsome young man. After they were married in April of 1947 they welcomed a son and later a daughter. In the summer of 1956, Norma took a couple of classes at Western Michigan University. She carpooled with teachers at a local school. In August, 1956, Norma got a call from a superintendent asking if she would be interested in teaching first grade in a two teacher building. That was when her 27 year career began with just two years of college training and a promise that she could continue her education. It was a real challenge for her parenting, but Norma had help from her husband and a very supportive neighbor. She did earn a B.S. degree and later a Masters. Norma felt that her experience in the classroom was going home. It gave her a very satisfying feeling that she was doing what she should be doing.
Norma also enjoyed needlework, such as quilting and embroidering, and singing with three choir groups. She came to AFRH-W in November 2014. She left to visit relatives for a month in 2015 and couldn’t wait to return “Home”, where all her needs are taken of. Norma keeps active helping other Residents, participating in the various programs and helping with the Reading Buddies program for the new school.